Troubleshooting

If one thing is certain about computing it is that the more you do the more likely you are to encounter some problems.

Most likely they will not be the sort of problems that you will need a nerd for, but the sort that just niggle at you for days or weeks until they drive you half way around the bend.

The good news is that Windows 8.1 has a built in troubleshooter that will help you work out why this feature won't work, or that function has failed and it can sort most minor problems out in a jiffy.

You can find it by typing "trouble" from the new style Start screen which appears when you start your Windows 8.1 machine up. A search bar will pop up on the right hand side of the screen with the word "troubleshooting" at the top next to an icon of a computer. Click on that icon and the desktop version of the Control Panel will open.

If you know what sort of problem you are trying to fix click "View all" in the top left hand corner of the screen. A list appears of things you can troubleshoot: Hardware and Devices, HomeGroup, Incoming Connections, Internet Connections, Internet Explorer Performance, Internet Explorer Safety, Network Adapter, Playing Audio, Power, Printer, Program Compatibility, Recording Audio, Search and Indexing, Shared Folder, System Maintenance, Windows Media Player DVD, Windows Media Player Library, Windows Media Player Settings and Windows Update.

Clicking any one of these will open a new window that says "Find and fix problems with . . ." whatever it is you have clicked. Click "Next" and Windows 8.1's troubleshooter will do its thing.

If that doesn't fix your problem click "Explore additional options" and you'll be taken to another screen which gives you numerous options.

You can search Microsoft's Windows Help and Support database. If that doesn't help Microsoft's Windows Communities is a place where you can post a question that others can answer. Another option, from the same screen, is to get help from a friend.

If you're running antivirus software you might find Windows has to do something about that first. Once it has it will prompt you to send a request for help from someone you trust by sending them an attachment which gives them a remote connection to your computer no matter where they are in the world. So it really does have to be a friend or close family member and not someone who has called you pretending to be from Microsoft. Beware of people who do that. They are scammers.

There's also a Steps Recorder on the remote assistance screen so that you can take snapshots of the screen to send to your friend when things do go wrong and you get an error message.

Recovery is the next option if none of the others work. You can refresh your personal computer without affecting you files, or reset it to the way it was when it shipped from the factory and start with it as if it is a new machine. This is also a good option if you want to sell your machine on TradeMe. The second option is rather extreme, and you must copy any files on the hard disk drive to an external drive if you ever want to see them again.

Online Support is your final option and will take you to your personal computer manufacturer's website for that particular model of machine. Or you can also click "Get personal assistance" where you can do just that with an online trouble shooter.

If none of these solutions work you may well need a nerd.

Need A Nerd

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